on 27 January 2008
I am very pleased with this Blu-Ray release of 'Days of Glory'- the picture is sharp, focused, and very obviously HD. I would say that the visual quality ranks as one of the best in my blu-ray collection. The battle at the beginning of the film, with paned out shots of large numbers of infantry attacking a hill, looked stunning. I definitely recommend buying this on Blu-Ray instead of DVD.
As for the film itself, I think this has taken its place as one of my favourite war films. It sheds light on a side of WW2 which has very rarely been explored, and it educates the viewer on the topic of race relations within the ranks of the French military with sensitivity and very naturally- it is not melodramatic, the characters feel like human beings and not actors- which makes it all the more shocking and powerful. It's one of those films where the full emotional impact sinks in in the days after watching it. It's interesting to see the conflict through the eyes of Algerian soldiers- the second world war is seen as such a good versus evil, unambiguous conflict that the situation of the colonial forces is difficult to grasp.
Truly, this film will make you think. It's powerful, sad, well-acted, stunning in high def and an essential purchase for anyone's blu-ray collection.
on 18 May 2009
The comparisons that are continually being made between this film and Saving Private Ryan are completely inept. This is a far superior film in all respects. The story is more credible, being based closely as it is on the actual experiences of French North African colonial troops rather than, as is the case with Ryan, consisting of a schmalzed up version of a story loosely inspired by a real life incident. The story is gripping and intensely moving as it follows the fates of a group of colonial troops who have enlisted- for a variety of reasons- to free their supposed motherland from the Nazis. Some enlist for money, others for adventure and some out a sense of genuine idealistic patriotism. A rude awakening awaits each and every one of them. The film can be viewed and enjoyed as an adventure movie and also as a disquisition on the inherant folly and flaws of colonialism. These men - and their real life counterparts in both the French and British empires- gave their loyalty and their lives for mother countries that undervalued, despised and ultimately rejected and spurned them. I defy anyone to watch the final scene of this film without being brought to the brink of tears. French cinema at its very best.
WOW: What a film.
And WOW: there's some really harsh reviews on here, for what I thought was and excellent war film. How strange, and undeserved (look at the DVD reviews - it has 4 and a half stars overall, while at the time of writing this, the Blu Ray release, has 2?).
So, first of all, take it from me; this is a good film. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly - this is a good war film.
I love war films and it's refreshing to have seen this, as recently I've watched lots and they've all been a huge let down (Defiance for one, Max Manus: Man Of War, and although a series and not a film, Generation Kill spring to mind as a few Turkeys I've watched in the last few months) so it's good to have been 'blown away' (no pun intended) by this little gem.
For starters it focuses on Muslim soldiers from Algeria, fighting in the French army, against the Nazis - that in itself makes a nice difference to the usual, war films from the British (or worse still American) perspective and gives an interesting angle and perspective to a a genre of film we've all seen a billion times and generally can guess what's going to happen in them a mile off.
But the Muslim angle isn't the only way it's different: it's different too in the fact that there's really something innocent about the soldiers we follow (this is a theme that's nothing new in war films - boys fighting as men etc - innocent lives ruined) But for some reason, the piety, innocence and naivety of these few soldiers was different and incredibly touching. Even more upsetting. Take for instance, the fact that one of the men enlisted only had one arm, a bit of a simpletone froma small village - yet he still enlisted to help 'free the Mother land' - a place he'd only ever heard of in songs. There is some really, really excellent acting throughout, and you really end up feeling for the characters and what they go through.
So - what do they go through? Some really quite good war scenes, that's what!!!... It's not unrelenting, but the scenes that are, on the whole, are very good. The final battle scene for instance is excellent; really well done; and you're on the edge of your seat as few stand against many.
The scenery is stunning and brilliantly displayed on Blu Ray (better than the DVD release for sure) plus - for some unknown reason - the subtitles didn't distract from the film... (usually I find myself struggling to rush through reading the subtitles and take in the visual element too, but this seemed balanced just right. You could read the subtitles easily and at a good pace and still have plenty of time to take in the stunning scenery or great acting). This is one of the best war films I've seen probably - and I've seen them all. It's certainly the best war film I've seen in a while anyway.
This is almost a 5 star film for me - but I'm gonna give it 4. Ignore the 1 star reviews (as I say look at the DVD reviews) they're just stupidly harsh.
For once a film deserving of the accolades plastered all of the front of it's box.
If this review was helpful to you at all please give it the thumbs up! :)
on 15 October 2009
No doubt it is interesting to see the point of view of someone else about the facts narrated in this epic movie. In its genre it is absolutely perfect. Non doubt it is worth to see once more how shameful a war is, and still how many corrupted powers survive on the pain of human beings turned to mere soldiers. However the story passes over some gruesome "details" of the narrated events. Like the slaughter of the inhabitants of some Italian small towns and villages, perpetrated by the North African troops, with the revenging bless of their French commanders (Remember "La Ciociara", 1960, directed by Vittorio de Sica, winning at Cannes Festival). A fact just forgotten, even in the extra interviews to the director and of course the actors, too young to know. It is just this out of tune, in a story that "wants to tell the truth". The movie in itself is wonderful and touching to the right point, worth to be seen and meditated.
on 15 February 2010
A well produced film with solid characterisation and a gritty realism. A poignant potrayal of the French Algerian colonial troops who fought to liberate France in WWII, yet who were treated as second-class citizens, both in France and in Algeria of the colonial era.Each character has his own reasons for joining, some in the hope of finding recognition in the French system, others just looking for a means of surviving in hard times, led by a sergeant who has to conceal his mixed race background to protect his own chances of promotion in a racially unequal army. The story grips the viewer from the outset and keeps up the tension.It makes you want to find out what will finally happen to the various players. Historical detail of the Free French army will satisfy those with an eye for detail.
on 15 September 2007
The terrible, apparently ironic, English title and regular comparisons to Saving Private Ryan do this film no favours. Unlike the Spielberg film, Debouzzel's film engages the mind as well as the heart. It makes interesting and subtle points about the relationship between the coloniser and the colonised. The "message" that most people took from this film, including, famously, the French government, was that France had treated those who had fought for France disgracefully; indeed this film led to a change in government policy which is an outcome not many films achieve. For all its underlying seriousness this a compelling film to watch (more than once); several of the performances are outstanding and the cinematography is breathtaking. This is war film for even those who "don't like war films".
on 25 November 2009
Interesting film from the point of view of the North African French colonies who signed up to fight for the French in the 2nd World War. A bit like the British colonies these boys weren't looked after as well as their fatherland should have. I thought it was an emotional film and left you feeling that you had seen a well filmed and thought out war movie. There was also some great acting from the unknown (to me) French-speaking actors. If you like War movies and you don't mind subtitles, you'll love this.
on 22 April 2015
Maybe a good film if you dislike the truth. What this film does not show is the disgraceful behaviour of the Moroccan troops who when assisted the Allies in Italy, raped old and young women, young men and children in large numbers. This happened in 1944 when the Moroccan troops called Goumiers under French Command committed many atrocities to the Local Italian population.
If a film like this has to be made, they should stick to the truth and forgo the word Glory in its title
on 30 December 2008
Well, I'm a huge war movie fan and own all the classics, and I'd seen this a couple of times in the shops (with all the rave reviews on the front cover) and evntually gave in and bought it - albeit only £3.00 from Blockbuster! And I have to say I was not impressed. Now, I fully appreciate the message that the film portrays but unfortunately that did nothing to improve the overall effect. I still own 'Saints & Soldiers' and I remembered thinking Days of Glory wouldn't be as bad as that, but it was, in fact, worse. I would say that the film is worth watching and I accept that there are some people out there who love it, but it's just not for me. Don't be afraid to give this one a miss...
on 8 September 2007
So World War 2, and everybody is fighting side by side against a common and hated enemy...nice idea, but it was never that way, and this film highlights this fact brilliantly. Four Algerian men, none of whom have ever set foot upon French soil, heed the call for troops to help liberate what to them is seen as the Motherland. Enlisting without any real thought about what they are doing this for apart from some barely realised idea of duty and honour, the men soon discover that racism exists, even in war, and even from your own side. Regarded with derision (the term "wogs" is used frequently throughout the film) by their own side and their own officers, the men are treated differently and although they fight the same fight, dodge the same bullets and shed the same blood, they are never really recognised for what they are...decent men fighting a horrible war for a country that unfortunately regards them as second class citizens.
The four main characters are superbly realised as living, breathing human beings with hopes and fears just like the rest of us. From Messaoud (Roschdy Zem), a man who falls in love with a beautiful French woman and wants nothing more than to return to her once the fighting is done, through Said (Jamel Debbouze), a dirt poor illiterate young man who joins up in a welter of patriotic fervour and soon discovers that it is not going to be glory after glory, Yassir (Samy Naceri), who has joined up for the money (whether paid or looted) and wants simply to protect his younger brother Larbi, to Abdelkader (Sami Bouajila) the corporal who leads the men and fights against the injustices he sees meted out on his men at every turn (whether it is being overlooked for deserved promotions or simply not getting the same food as the regular French soldiers), each one of them is allowed to grow as the film progresses, so that the viewer feels that they know each and every one of them (an idea Spielberg tried with some success in Saving Private Ryan, but with nothing like the effect here).
Directed by Rachid Bouchareb, this is a film that moves slowly and allows us to empathise and then sympathise with the characters. Whilst it contains some effective action set pieces, in particular a nerve shredding battle towards the end of the movie, this film is not about the violence of warfare, it deals with a very different theme, liberty and the right to be treated with respect. That this film served to force a change in French law, whereby the pension paid to colonial veterans were brought in line with those paid to regular French troops, and brought about similar changes in Holland, Italy and even Great Britain, just goes to show that cinema still has the power to change things for the better. This film is an honour and a privilege to watch, and a true testament to the bravery of men who fought for a country they didn't even know, but they did love.